Friday, June 17, 2016

Movie Review: Me Before You

Book details:
Title: Me Before You
Author: Jojo Moyes

Movie details:
Title: Me Before You
Director: Thea Sharrock
Screenplay: Jojo Moyes

First, I should clarify that I typically don't do the romance genre. This book kept showing up in my bookstagram feed and lots of people I respect were reading it and enjoying it. So I decided to pick up a copy. I read it very quickly and I was pleasantly surprised by the story. I mean, I wasn't blown away or anything but for a romance, I thought it was fun and entertaining. I loaned it to my 19 year old co-worker and I told her when she finished, her and I could go see the movie together.

She finished, so we went. Me (40 years old), my daughter (17 years old) and my co-worker. Girl's night! We stocked up on popcorn, soda and chocolate and found our seats. The theater was empty. Granted, the movie had been out about a week or so but I was expecting more than 10 people altogether.
Let's talk about the good news about this movie first. So the author wrote the screenplay which is always very cool and her voice from the novel definitely came through in the dialogue. The director made some great choices in that the setting was spot on. Everything from the castle to the cafe to the Traynor's residence and Lou's house was perfection. Exactly like I pictured it. The casting was great too! Will Traynor was played by Sam Clafin who was also Finnick in the Hunger Games movies. He was perfect! Handsome, witty, wry, sarcastic and clever. Will's parents were played by Charles Dance (Tywin Lanester from Game of Thrones) and Janet McTeer (Damages). They were just like I pictured them too--except for some reason, the storyline of Will's father being preoccupied with an extra marital affair was left out so he seemed aloof and the couple appeared disconnected for no, real reason.
Lou's family was well cast as well. We even got the privilege of having Mr. Bates from Downton Abbey play as Lou's father. He was delightful (whenever he was on screen). Even Nathan, the nurse, was a good casting choice but they didn't give him much--he was just sort of there-he looked the part but he added nothing to the movie, really.
But let's talk about the main character, Lou Clark.
Ugh.
Don't get me wrong, I love Emilia Clarke as Daenerys Targaryen on Game of Thrones. She plays the Dragon Mother very well. But then I saw her in Terminator Genisys and I was disappointed. She was terrible as Sarah Connor. TERRIBLE.
I chalked it up to the fact that maybe nobody could play Sarah Connor than Linda Hamilton. So when I heard she was cast as the delightful Lou Clarke, I was nervous. Very, very nervous.
In my mind, I had pictured Zooey Deschanel. Because nobody does fashionably awkward or adorably quirky like Zooey.
And I think Emilia tried to be a good Lou. She tried really, REALLY hard; to the point that she overdid it. BAD. You could tell this persona does not come naturally to Emilia Clarke. There were some scenes where people in the movies were audibly groaning at the cheese factor. Lou staring at Will longingly for too long, Lou scrunching up her nose, Lou singing a dumb song, Lou trying to be cute-angry, Lou staring whistfully out the window, Lou giggling, Lou jumping up and down with her new bumblebee tights, Lou ugly crying...it was over-the-top and it bugged me.
If you watch this movie, please notice two things: Lou's eyebrows and the scene on the beach when Will is telling Lou some harsh news and you have to stare at Emilia's profile while she's ugly crying. It is the ugliest, most deformed profile you'll ever see on screen and it's embarrassing and uncomfortable. It ruined a very important scene.
In the car home, my co-worker and I told my daughter (who didn't read the book) all the scenes and back story that didn't make it into the movie. By themselves, the scenes are small and seem irrelevent but all together they serve to enhance the plot so it's not just another girl meets boy-doomed romance story--which it was.
Left out was more of the cafe and Lou's sweet interactions with her employer and customers (we got 2 minutes of that in the very beginning)
We didn't get much of Lou's family, a little, but not enough to care about any of them.
Patrick was played by sweet Neville Longbottom who was a real treat but had zero depth. The relationship between Pat and Lou was rushed-they didn't even move in together and it seemed as though Lou enjoyed being mean to him and choosing her work over Pat--that was very different in the book, there was real conflict and turmoil there.
There was really nothing going on, plot wise, with Will's parents-so the affair story line would have made a huge improvement there. Will's sister didn't come to visit, so Lou found out about Will's death wish from a conversation she overhears that didn't exist in the book.
The biggest omission was the story about Lou being sexually assaulted at the castle. Will and Lou end up going to the castle in the movie but it's all fun and games and none of the depth and seriousness that the movie desperately needed.
We didn't even get a very good idea that Will had attempted suicide before. There were hints but no big realization for Lou. All the inner mind chat we get in the book about the way Will smelled and the slow development from friendship to romance was gone-rushed through or ignored.
Even some of the book's best lines were dropped in a very casual manner.
The soundtrack was super, duper sappy. I hated it everytime a song came on and the montage when Lou is trying to find info at the library during a sappy love song was painfully overrought.
In the end, the movie managed to squeeze a few tears out of me but I think I'm an easy cryer. I cry all the time while I read and watch movies. I'm an emotional reader/movie goer.
Anyhoodles,
I give this movie only two stars. One for Will Traynor and the casting and one for the sets/sceneary.




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